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Scuttlebutt has it that Whole Foods opened its latest supermarket just before the holidays in North Dallas with a full-service spa–so customers can get off the merry-go-round for a brief respite in the midst of their busy days....


Think of it: WF is offering customers the ultimate pampering... a choice of various kinds of massage, scrubs and other treatments on organic cotton sheets, amid organic cotton towels. For patrons who are in a hurry, there are massage chairs and 5 to 10 minute tune-ups available. Customers will also be able to purchase these organic linens, organic fiber clothing, and high-end HBA items in the spa shop.
Heaven!
Customers in the new store can also visit the new Food Concierge Desk for a variety of services: personal shoppers are available to actually do the shopping for the customer, or arrange the home delivery of their groceries, for a nominal fee. WF Associate Marketing Director: "You can book your grocery list with the concierge desk, and instead of spending an hour pushing a cart, you can spend your hour on a massage table upstairs." The staffers at the concierge desk also offer menu planning services or can make gift suggestions. Will wonders ever cease?
Besides the above amenities, the new store will offer the following:
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A candy shop replete candy being mixed in large copper kettles, a chocolate dipping fountain, taffy and cotton candy machines.
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A special humidity and temperature controlled gourmet cheese case that enables its delectable offerings to be put out sans plastic wraps.
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A sampling area for customers to taste oils and vinegars in a wide range of prices.
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In-house seafood and meat smokers visible to the customers.
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Sushi chefs visibly preparing their delicious offerings in a theatrical setting.
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A New York style deli offering many hard-to-find, ethnic specialties.
Question: is this whole new kind of supermarket experience over the top, or does it signal the next logical step in the development of the supermarket as theater?
Will the customer be willing to pay premium prices in a supermarket like Whole Foods because of the chain's push to offer more and more amenities, or should they stick to offering high quality food offerings, tastings and chef demonstrations?
Your thoughts on this latest marketing ploy?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ted Mininni is president of Design Force, Inc. (www.designforceinc.com), a leading brand-design consultancy to consumer product companies (phone: 856-810-2277). Ted is also a regular contributor to the MarketingProfs blog, the Daily Fix.